Friday, August 17, 2018
  • The Buzz
  • From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Broward school system doesn’t give police data on students in discipline program

SUNRISE — More confusion surrounds the Broward County school district's controversial discipline diversion program known as PROMISE after a Broward County Sheriff's Office major revealed that deputies and school resource officers do not have access to discipline data for students in the program.

Major Nichole Anderson of the Broward Sheriff's Office School Resource Officer Program testified Friday to a commission created to make recommendations in light of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High on Feb. 14 that left 17 dead. The school district first denied that suspected shooter Nikolas Cruz was involved with the program but later said Cruz went through PROMISE's intake process before returning to his school the next day in 2013.

Anderson said the Broward Sheriff's Office has no access to discipline data about students in the PROMISE program.

"They don't have access to our system, we don't have access to their system," Anderson said. "I can't stand here in good conscience and say that that's happening."

A possible solution Anderson suggested? The Broward County school district having its own police department.

She said deputies and school resource officers cannot tell how many times a student has been referred to PROMISE and that schools rely on "word of mouth" communication between administrators and school resource officers.

Anderson said the PROMISE program "is a very good program in theory" but that there was supposed to be a separate database set up so a school resource officer can access a PROMISE student's discipline history.

"For whatever reason, that data isn't up and running so if you don't have that relationship or that communication with the administration at the school as well as with the deputy, then things fall through the crack."

Anderson said it wasn't a refusal to share information on the district's part but rather an inconsistency among schools, calling it "part human in that you have different personalities." She characterized the current setup as "not ideal."

What would be ideal, Anderson said, was if the school district created its own schools police force similar to the Miami-Dade and Palm Beach school districts. She clarified that the recommendation came from majors and colonels but not specifically from Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.

Currently, 16 municipal police departments supply school resource officers in addition to BSO, and each has its own set of policies and procedures that can make for inconsistent operating procedures and conflicting roles and responsibilities, she said. The school district only pays 30 percent of the cost of a school resource officer, and consolidating into one school police department means one consistent funding source.

"Consistency, accountability, you have everything on one board and that makes for an easier process," Anderson said.

Michaelle "Mickey" Pope, the district's Student Support Initiatives Executive Director who oversees PROMISE, gave a presentation Thursday that left commission members unsatisfied, with one member saying he wanted to "dig deep" into the program. The commission has asked Pope to testify when the board meets again in July.

"If we have no database for lack of a better term, lack of tracking across law enforcement agencies … it's just good citizenship driving interactions between the law enforcement and school district," said Broward County School Board candidate and commission member Ryan Petty, the father of Alaina Petty who was among those killed at Stoneman Douglas. "We have little hope of actually identifying and interceding in these events before something tragic happens. It would be nothing more than luck that allows us to do that."

He added, "How do we know if these programs are effective? We have no data to tell."

In the presentation that followed, Broward County school district chief of staff Jeff Moquin said deputies do have access to discipline panels and attendance panels.

Moquin said it would cost the school district $56.6 million to create its own schools police force, however the district does not support the BSO recommendation.

"We're not in the law enforcement business," he said.

Anderson said she was speaking specifically to students in PROMISE.
"There was a database to be established that the deputies could access, school resource officers can access," she said.

Broward County school district spokeswoman Tracy Clark did not respond to requests for comment.

Commission member and Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said he was "significantly concerned" that the district is figuring out how it will staff an armed guard at every school.

"I want to say publicly that the pace at which I see them working on what has been reported to us gives me pause," he said.

Lori Alhadeff, Broward County School Board candidate and the mother of Alyssa Alhadeff who died at Stoneman Douglas Feb. 14, said she wanted to see changes for her sons, who attend Westglades Middle next to Stoneman Douglas.

"I need the PROMISE program to work, and I want the PROMISE program to work with appropriate revisions to it." she said.

Commission chairman and Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri warned that if Cruz's only contact with the PROMISE program was one time, six years ago that it could be a red herring.

"Enough about the PROMISE program because this isn't the PROMISE program commission," he said. "We have to be careful with rabbit holes and red herrings."

The commission voted to add a third day to its next meeting which will be held July 10 and 11.

Colleen Wright can be reached at @Colleen_Wright.

Comments
Trump nominates U.S. attorney with close ties to Matt Gaetz

Trump nominates U.S. attorney with close ties to Matt Gaetz

WASHINGTON – President Trump has nominated a former law partner of Rep. Matt Gaetz to become U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Florida.The buzz is the nomination of Larry Keefe, subject to Senate confirmation, has stirred talk in the r...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Florida election officials to Bill Nelson: You must reveal more about Russian hacking claim

Florida election officials to Bill Nelson: You must reveal more about Russian hacking claim

Two top Florida election officials demanded Thursday that Sen. Bill Nelson reveal more about his unsubstantiated claim that Russians have hacked some county election systems."We are aware of the threat and the need to stay vigilant, but if you have s...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Citing hurricane in Puerto Rico, lawsuit seeks bilingual ballots in 32 more Florida counties

Citing hurricane in Puerto Rico, lawsuit seeks bilingual ballots in 32 more Florida counties

Voter advocacy groups aligned with Hispanics and Democrats filed a lawsuit Thursday calling on Gov. Rick Scott's administration to order all ballots and election materials to be printed in English and Spanish in 32 counties in the November general el...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Rick Scott and wife invested in parent company bidding on Tampa high-speed rail

Rick Scott and wife invested in parent company bidding on Tampa high-speed rail

As one of his first acts in office in 2011, Gov. Rick Scott canceled a $2.4 billion federally funded and shovel-ready bullet train from Orlando to Tampa because it carried "an extremely high risk of overspending taxpayer dollars with no guarantee of ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn endorses Democrat Gwen Graham for governor

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn endorses Democrat Gwen Graham for governor

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn on Thursday endorsed Gwen Graham in the Democratic primary for governor, giving the former Congresswoman a high-profile backer in the crucial Interstate-4 corridor."I believe in her, because I believe she is the right candida...
Updated: 11 hours ago
‘Putin’s puppet’: The feud between Democratic gov. hopefuls Jeff Greene and Philip Levine gets nastier

‘Putin’s puppet’: The feud between Democratic gov. hopefuls Jeff Greene and Philip Levine gets nastier

The Jeff Greene-Philip Levine feud lives on.Thursday, Greene announced a new ad campaign accusing Levine, the former Miami Beach mayor, of being a "puppet" of Russian President Vladimir Putin.Levine has gotten about $500,000 in donations from Leonard...
Published: 08/16/18
Can Bernie Sanders swing the Florida governor’s race?

Can Bernie Sanders swing the Florida governor’s race?

Andrew Gillum's gubernatorial campaign may come down to one question: How much does Bernie Sanders' support matter in a Democratic primary?The Independent Senator from Vermont is coming to Tampa on Friday to campaign with Gillum, the Tallahassee mayo...
Published: 08/16/18
Mayor publicly accuses commissioner of anal bleaching. She calls it a #MeToo moment.

Mayor publicly accuses commissioner of anal bleaching. She calls it a #MeToo moment.

When Hallandale Beach Mayor Keith London said "sphincter bleaching is a very up and coming business," during the City Commission's budget discussion Monday night, he may have been right. But whether he thought anal bleach had anything to do with publ...
Published: 08/15/18
Updated: 08/16/18
High security, media attention at Stoneman Douglas’ first day of school

High security, media attention at Stoneman Douglas’ first day of school

PARKLAND — Like any other first day of school, there were predawn traffic jams, winding drop-off lines and first-day jitters. About 271,000 students returned to class in Broward County on Wednesday, and 80,000 of them came by bus.But this was u...
Published: 08/15/18
Democratic race for Florida attorney general gets bogged down in lawsuits

Democratic race for Florida attorney general gets bogged down in lawsuits

What looks like an easy win for Tampa state Rep. Sean Shaw in the Democratic primary for attorney general, setting set up a serious general election battle, is getting tangled in litigation that doesn't appear likely to help any Democrat win the key ...
Published: 08/15/18